Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12 Days of Christmas: Day Ten

Welcome to Day Ten of the All That Love Can Do 12 Days of Christmas! You can read all about this online event HERE. If you'd like to catch up on all the posts from this event, you can find them HERE

Facing the holidays without your baby, or when you know your baby's life is going to be short, is overwhelmingly hard. Please, above all else, be gentle with yourself. 

If you'd like to connect with other loss families facing the holidays without their children, you can join the private group on Facebook, HERE

We hope you find peace and healing in the days to come <3.

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Day Ten, 
by Bethany Conkel

Unlike most people, Christmas has never been my favorite time of year. I’m not sure why. I’m always happy when Christmas is over and things go back to “normal”. After I got a positive pregnancy test in early 2012, I remember actually getting excited about Christmas for the first time since I was a girl. Somehow knowing that we would have a little one with us changed my perspective and I was actually excited for the holidays even though we were nowhere close to the Christmas season. I pictured myself and husband sitting with our 3month old in front of the fire opening gifts. It was going to be wonderful.

Then… everything changed. 

We learned that our sweet baby wasn’t going to stay. He would only be earth-side for a short time. That brief 80 minutes in September, although it was wonderful, sure didn’t include Christmas.

As the holidays approached that year, I began to dread them. My daydream of a happy Christmas morning with our little family sitting by the fire mocked me. I cried as I looked at the advertisements for little footie Christmas pajamas. I changed the channel when Christmas commercials came on. I refused to decorate. I only went to family gatherings out of obligation, and I remember quietly slipping away more than once to be alone because I just couldn’t handle it.

So, how did I survive? 

Besides taking things one day at a time, I kept my expectations low, and made the choice to try and enjoy what I could and let myself cry when I could not. I also went out of my way that year to incorporate my sweet boy as much as possible. We hung a stocking for him at my in-laws’ house. We framed his hand and foot prints and gave them as gifts to a few family members. We gave each of his grandparents a special ornament that we made the day he was born. 
I shared a special Christmas cookie “with him” at his memorial stone in the garden. I also made special Christmas bundles for the organization that helped us with his organ donation.

To be honest, I can’t say I enjoyed that Christmas, but I can say I survived. I can also say the next Christmas was a little easier, and this Christmas is looking like it will be better than the last. Although I wasn’t able to hold my little one in my arms in front of a fire that year like I had hoped, I was able to hold him in my heart, which, if he can’t be in my arms, that is where I want him to be.

So, if you are like me and not really a Christmas-lover, I will encourage you by saying things will go back to “normal” (or at least your “new normal”) without the added stress of The Season. Christmas won’t last forever. Do what you can to incorporate the memory of your little one, find joy where you can, and when you can’t know that it is okay. Hold your little one close to your heart and know that you are not alone. 

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Bethany Conkel lives in Ohio and is married to her wonderful husband, Eric. She is the mommy to two amazing children – one who is in heaven, the other here on earth. Bethany carried her precious son, Amalya Nathaniel (meaning: “work of the Lord”, “given by God”) to term after receiving the diagnosis of anencephaly when she was 11 weeks pregnant. Amalya lived for 1 hour and 20 minutes before taking hold of the Lord’s hand. After he passed, his liver, pancreas, and whole body were donated to scientific research.Bethany has since created a website about neonatal organ, tissue, and whole body donation called Purposeful Gift to help other families explore the option of donation. She is also a certified Birth and Bereavement Doula through and serves withSufficient Grace Ministries


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